Monday, June 14, 2010

A sampler of evasive terms in English

For a quick and sometimes humorous overview of evasive terms, take a look at the vintage essay “Evasive Language Results for Suboptimal Outcomes,” by John Leo (pictured), an incisive observer of the English language.

Here are two paragraphs from the essay:

“Leaking closely held government or corporate information is a terrible offense, a gross violation of duty and maybe even treason. Unless, of course, you agree with the leaker. In that case, he is a ‘whistleblower.’ ”

“On our madcap campuses, PC folk keep inventing terms that make speech sound like action, so if they want to punish someone, they can do so while strongly (and hypocritically) defending free speech. ‘Expressive behavior,’ ‘verbal conduct’ and ‘verbal action’ all mean ‘speech.’ ”

The Takeaway: We live in hypocritical times. We read and hear evasive language every day. As writers, we must remain consciously aware of evasiveness – lest we unconsciously absorb and imitate evasive diction.

See disclaimer.

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